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Q’s Reviews – October 24, 2016

Michael Moore in TrumpLand.   Comedian and documentarian Michael Moore takes his polemic to Wilmington, Ohio – the center of Trump voters in Ohio. He invites local voters to The Murphy Theatre where Moore in a stand up comic like routine deconstructs Trump and the American history that created the current political environment. Moore is never mean but does call to task politicians from whatever stripe. Moore is quite clever and funny. He even makes the hostile citizens of Wilmington laugh and applaud. This film is a treat and available on iTunes. Not rated but would be R for language. It is a Peggy’s Pick.

Boo! A Madea Halloween.   Tyler Perry is back with his latest Madea adventure – he should retire her.   This adventure is boring and the comedy quite forced. Madea and her cohorts (mostly costumed Tyler Perry) are charged with keeping two teenage girls away from a Fraternity party and fail miserably. It happens to be Halloween night so there are ghosts, poltergeists, ghouls and goblins to scare everyone. The film tries to exploit comically every stereotype but comes up way short, as nothing is remotely believable. Perry does engineer a big homily at the end, but by then no credibility is left.   Rated PG-13 for drug use and references, suggestive content, language, some horror images and thematic material.

Jack Reacher; Never Go Back.   Tom Cruise is back as Jack Reacher, loner and one man wrecking crew. Jack gets drawn into a government conspiracy where his old Army group is covering up a scandal. He is in personal jeopardy as is his successor, Major Turner (Cobie Smulders). He must clear her name as well as his.   They are on the run as fugitives from the law while also being pursued by goons. Reacher discovers a complication from his past that could change his life forever and compromises his efforts to expose the bad guys. Needless to say there are endless chases, shoot-outs and fistfights. The film is enjoyable as pure escapism but not much more. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements.

Q’s Reviews – October 17, 2016

The Accountant.   The CPAs of the world may have to offer greatly enhanced services to match this accountant’s unique skills. Ben Affleck is Christian Wolff, an autistic math genius who has had advanced training in martial arts and weapons. He does not understand people, but has a huge insight into numbers. He works out of a beat up strip mall as a cover up for his real work as a singular accountant for dangerous illicit organizations. The US Treasury Department is tracking him as he takes on a seemingly legitimate client, a prosthetic robotics company, trying to determine accounting irregularities. Christian uncooks the books but discovers a much bigger gambit. The bullets fly and fists pummel as this accountant uses his special skills to take out his enemies in a blaze of gore and violence. A ferocious CPA sure goes against stereotype. The film’s plot has way too many holes to recommend; but there is a giddy pleasure seeing an accountant as an action hero. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.

How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change. Josh Fox brings us a documentary as a worthy successor to An Inconvenient Truth. Fox examines the current science on global warming; its causes and possible remedies. The dire predictions send in him another direction to travel the world to seek out climate change “warriors” who are committed to reversing the tide of global warming on a local level. He chokes on Beijing smog, watches glaciers melt, participates in a ”boat in” in Australia, dances in Vanuatu, and helps install solar panels in rural Africa. Funny and sad, moving and educational he examines the upsetting of the delicate balance that allows us to live on this planet. This is a must see and a Peggy’s Pick.

A Man Called Ove.   Set in modern Sweden, we meet 59 year-old Ove whose wife has recently died and he finds himself involuntarily retired. He is his neighborhood’s curmudgeon. No longer the neighborhood association president, he continues to enforce the rules and patrol the property. He is grumpy and sad as he visits his wife’s grave daily promising to join her soon. A new family moves in next door with a very pregnant Iranian wife and a Swedish husband. They accidentally back into Ove’s mailbox and he explodes in a tirade of putdowns. But this is actually a start to an unlikely friendship. The film lets us into Ove’s life as he recounts his earlier days, tragedies that affected him, the loves of his life and most importantly what car to buy at each stage of life. This is a marvelous drama that is also a wonderful comedy about friendship, love and the significance of proper implements. Find it and enjoy. It is in Swedish with English subtitles. Rated PG-13 for thematic content, some disturbing images, and language. It is a Peggy’s Pick.

Q’s Reviews – October 10, 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Director Tim Burton is back with an adventure-fantasy that only he could make. Young Jacob mourns his grandfather who left Jacob with some clues to a mystery from many years ago. Jacob follows those clues to a small island off the coast of Wales. There he finds a supernatural place known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The children’s peculiarities are diverse special powers that make them the targets of powerful enemies. Jacob discovers that he has his own special peculiarity that can save his new school friends from their nemesis. Burton’s creates a weird world for peculiars to thrive as they take extraordinary measures to maintain their special life. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action, violence and peril. Note parts of the film are nightmare inducing.

The Girl on The Train. Emily Blunt is the girl on the train, Rachel. Rachel is an alcoholic reeling in her post-divorce life. She daily takes the train to work in Manhattan, and every day the train passes by her old house where he ex-husband lives with his new wife and baby. The sight of them pains her greatly. She also watches a young couple, Megan and Scott, and creates in her head a fantasy, wonderful life for them. One day she spies Megan on her porch in the arms of another man. Rachel awakes the next day with a horrible hangover, bloodied and covered with bruises. She has no memory of what happened. Suddenly Megan is missing and foul play is suspected. Rachel interposes herself in the lives of Megan’s husband, her ex-husband and his new wife and the police investigation. Rachel’s alcoholism makes her unwelcome and unbelievable. The mystery is afoot and is only resolved at great risk to Rachel. Based on the book of the same name, the film follows the book quite closely but misses the intrigue the book created through its different viewpoints and London locale. Emily Blunt’s performance is noteworthy as she gives us a nuanced and honest portrayal of a complex and pained character. Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity.

The Birth of a Nation. This is not a remake of the D.W. Griffith silent era classic of the same name. It is the antebellum American South where whopping slaves and chopping cotton is king. It is 1831 and slave Nat Turner (Nate Parker) starts a rebellion. He is a literate slave and preacher. His owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), farms out Nat to earn some extra money and to calm unruly slaves. Nat witnesses numerous atrocities and uses his preaching skills to orchestrate an uprising that is planned to liberate his people – it fails miserably. Rated R for disturbing violent content, and some brief nudity. It is a Peggy’s Pick with a caution that the violence is horrific and hard to watch.

Hedwig and The Angry Inch. At the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco through October 30, 2016. The play is a loud and blaring rock concert. Strobe lights and intense sound will assault your senses. Hedwig, was born Hansel in East Berlin. He endured a botched a sex-change operation in order to marry her love and flee to the West. Nothing worked as planned but Hedwig and her band are now touring the US telling her life story through a series of concerts at third-rate venues. Hedwig is in constant competition with big time rock star Tommy Gnosis, a once naïve boy who formerly loved Hedwig and stole her songs. Fans of the musical clearly enjoyed the experience; we were mystified. Darren Criss as Hedwig is remarkable with a big voice and even bigger personality. Given the sexual themes this is a not a play for children.

Q’s Reviews – October 3, 2016

Deepwater Horizon.   A better than average disaster flick that provides insight into deep-water drilling risks and rewards. The film attempts to create a bunch of back-stories for the people involved in the disaster, but those stories fail to connect. The real reason to see the movie is the fiery explosions and disaster sequences that make the movie. This well-known event is set on the offshore drilling rig “Deepwater Horizon”. The rig exploded in April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez and Kate Hudson provide the star power. The real fun is John Malkovich as an odious corporate stooge who oozes disastrous hubris. Rated PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language.

Harry and Snowman. Harry deLeyer was a Dutch resistance fighter who immigrated to the USA after World War II. He lived on a farm in Holland and was quite a horseman. He used his horse skills in the US to become a respected horse trainer and riding teacher. He rescued a broken down plow horse off of a slaughter truck. Harry paid eighty dollars for the horse and named him Snowman. The two of them developed a unique relationship. Snowman turned out to be an incredible jumper.   In less than two years Harry & Snowman won the triple crown of show jumping. Snowman and Harry became famous and traveled around the world together.   If ever a man and a horse had relationship, this was it. Harry is now an active 86 year-old and tells their remarkable story firsthand in this wonderful documentary. The film is must see, so find it. It is suitable for all ages. It is a Peggy’s Pick.

Masterminds. The film is ridiculously silly and funny, and based on real life events. David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) is a simple guy who drives an armored car delivering millions of dollars to banks. His dull job and life gets a big bit of excitement when his sexy co-worker Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) lures him into a $17M heist of cash. David has some help from nitwit crooks bossed around by Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson). Despite a ridiculous plan, they pull off the heist. David is such an idiot that he goes to Mexico with a small stash and leaves $17 million in cash behind with Chambers and his cronies who start spending it foolishly. With a needy hit man on his trail, David turns the tables on the double crossers and they all go to jail. The film is hilarious, so check it out. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence.

Queen of Katwe.   Based on real events, this is the inspiring and heart-warming story of Phiona, a young girl in Katwe, Uganda who ekes out at living with her family selling corn.   In the slums of Uganda, a man named Robert Katende teaches the children how to play chess and he discovers that Phiona has the skills of a chess master. Phiona’s mother is incredibly strong and keeps her children safe in a dangerous world. Phiona as an underdog struggles to the top of the chess world with hard work and the support of her family and community. David Oyelowo as Robert and Lupita Nyong’o as the mother, turn in great performances. The child actors in the movie are also remarkable. The film will move you and will leave you with good and positive feelings.   Rated PG for thematic elements, an accident scene and some suggestive material. It is a Peggy’s pick.

Q’s Reviews – September 26, 2016

The Hollars.   This film is an authentic and humorous look at a Made in America dysfunctional family. John Krasinski in his directorial debut stars as New York City artist John Hollar who doubts his talent and has become stuck in life. He is called home to his small town America hometown as his mother, Sally (a brilliant Margo Martindale), has fallen ill and needs a brain tumor removed. His NYC girlfriend, Rebecca (Anna Kendrick), who is eight months pregnant with their first child, takes an 8-hour cab ride to be with him.   John is confronted with the crazy world he left behind. His brother has moved in with their parents and obsesses about his ex-wife. John’s old girl friend still has the hots for him while now married to Sally’s nurse. His dad (Richard Jenkins) is the very definition of denial. All of this dysfunction would overwhelm a normal guy but John truly loves his family and Rebecca and figures out how to make it all work. This indie film is in limited release and worth finding. Rated PG-13 for brief language and some thematic material. It is a Peggy’s Pick.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. This Ron Howard documentary is a must see for all Beatles fans and anyone who is too young to have experienced the magic of Beatlemania. Newly found footage featuring the music, interviews, and stories as the Beatles perform 250 live concerts from 1963 to 1966. From the cellars of Liverpool and Hamburg to huge stadium concerts around the world the Fab Four share their songs, lives and talent with us. It is amazing to see John Lennon in his prime and how the Beatles crafted their music in a true collaboration. This is a real toe-tapping treat, so find it and enjoy. Note, after the credits there is 30 minutes of the 1965 Shea Stadium Concert, fully restored and makes time stand still. Not rated but likely would be R for language, endless smoking and drug references. It is a Peggy’s Pick.

The Magnificent Seven.   This is a remake of a remake and certainly did not need to be made again. Every Western cliché is employed except that the good guy (Denzel Washington) and the bad guy (Peter Sarsgaard) both wear back hats. The grieving widow with the heaving bosom, the clever Asian, the sharpshooter, the enigmatic American Indian, the crooked sheriff, endless gun battles and streets littered with bodies are all there. Most of the film is a slow and unnecessary build up to the massacre at the end; so no need to see the first hour or so, just waltz in about 70 minutes in and you won’t miss the carnage at the end.   Rated PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.

Q’s Reviews – September 19, 2016

Bridget Jones’s Baby. Renée Zellweger is back as Bridget. The new and supposedly improved Miss Zellweger does her best to capture the spark that made the prior movies sparkle, but the film falls apart with vulgarity and a contrived story line. Bridget is 43 and lamenting her single life. She finds herself preggers after a fling at a music festival and a follow-up one-nighter with her old flame – Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). Her career is in jeopardy with her pregnancy and she doesn’t even know who the father is. All of the pregnancy gags but with two competing fathers fill the film with banal adventures until the little tyke is finally born and paternity can be decided. The film is actually a sad commentary on modern London. Rated R for language, sex references and some nudity.

Mr. Church. Eddie Murphy is Mr. Church in this measured and beautiful performance. It is a powerful story of an unusual family that is born out of sadness. Mr. Church is a cook who is sent to care for a little girl, Charley, and her dying mother. The assignment is for six months but ends up being a lifetime. Mr. Church is a phenomenal cook who takes great care in food preparation and taste while he listens to jazz and smokes cigarettes. Mr. Church is full of wisdom and mystery as he steers the young girl through her youth, to womanhood and to motherhood. Britt Robertson is Charley and is a magnificent complement to Murphy’s sweet and volatile Mr. Church. This is a surprisingly good film that has had little promotion. Find it! It is a Peggy’s Pick. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements.

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. This film is the Swedish version of the ultimate shaggy-dog story. Allan Karlsson has led a long and interesting life. He is now stuck in a nursing home because he blew up a fox with TNT after the fox killed his cat and chickens. On his 100th birthday, he jumps out a window and starts a crazy journey that involves a suitcase full of cash, an elephant, a biker gang and new friends as Allan reminisces about his colorful life. Allan’s past exploits involve such diverse characters as Stalin, Truman, Franco, Robert Oppenheimer and a love for blowing things up. Rated R for language and some violence. Based on the novel of the same name, this film is a hoot. Find it on VOD services.

Q’s Reviews – September 12, 2016

Sully.   Director Clint Eastwood knows how to make a great film, and this is another one.   Take a great story and let great actors play their parts is a simple formula for success. On a cold day in January in 2009 Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) flew his disabled plane onto the cold water of the Hudson River. All 155 aboard the flight survived. The world celebrated his feat as the “Miracle on the Hudson”.   Against this backdrop of adulation, Sully’s reputation and his career are being threatened by the NTSB investigation into the river landing. The film cleverly creates tension and conflict as the facts surrounding the event are carefully examined. The fears of Sully and his crew as they relive the incident are palpably distressing. The film grabs your attention from the opening scenes and keeps you rapt throughout even though the story is well known.   Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language. It is a Peggy’s pick and an Oscar contender.

Transpecos. An indie film with unknown actors who are quite good, with amazing cinematography that captures the barren desert of New Mexico and makes the location part of the story and is edited to keep the film well paced and always engaging. The film is a very bad day for three Border Patrol officers working a remote desert checkpoint looking for drug mules and illegals. Hobbs is a crusty old guy who likes to hassle the drivers coming through. Davis is a green rookie learning the ropes. Flores is a good guy trying to do his job. One car comes through their checkpoint that sets in motion a perfidious plot involving a drug cartel that reaches deep into the Border Patrol itself. Treachery abounds leaving nothing but despair – the drug war is futile. This is quite a good film, worth the effort to find and see. Not rated but would be R for violence and language.

Meddler.   Susan Sarandon stars as Marnie in this light hearted comedy with a bit of a message.   Marnie is recently widowed and travels from New York to LA to be near her only daughter, Lori (Rose Byrne). Marnie annoys and incessantly pesters her daughter because Marnie has no other life. Lori flees back to New York to escape her mother. Marnie has many opportunities to connect with LA people who care for her but she is too afraid of commitment. Marnie scoots back to New York to see her daughter, reconnects with her late husband’s family and finally grieves for her late husband. Upon return to LA she has the courage to visit a man who is quite interested in her and life is good again. Sweet and at times funny, but a bit too trite. Rated PG-13 for brief drug content